U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Reaching Out versus Lashing Out: Examining Gender Differences in Experiences With and Responses to Bullying in High School

NCJ Number
American Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 43 Issue: 1 Dated: 2018 Pages: 39-66
Megan Stubbs-Richardson; H. C. Sinclair; Rebecca M. Goldberg; Chelsea N. Ellithorpe; Suzanne C. Amadi
Date Published
28 pages

This study examined gender differences in bullying in high school, with unique contributions including comparisons of both victimization and perpetration rates across four subtypes of bullying: physical, verbal, relational, and cyber.


Bullying is conceptualized within the larger framework of literature on social rejection, and the study also addressed whether there were gender differences in experiencing social rejection-in the form of bullying-and responding with aggression, as opposed to asocial or prosocial behavior. The literature yielded mixed findings across these three questions (i.e., gender differences in experiences with victimization and perpetration and responses to those experiences), suggesting sample variations (Archer Review of General Psychology, 8(4), 291-322, 2004; Archer & Coyne Personality and Social Psychology Review, 9, 212-230, 2005; Card, Stucky, Sawalani, & Little Child Development, 79, 1185-1229, 2008). Thus, the current study explored experiential differences in the study sample, and hypothesized based on the tend and befriend model (Taylor et al., 2000) that girls would be more likely than boys to respond to bullying with prosocial behaviors. Regarding victimization and perpetration differences, the study found that male students both experienced and perpetrated significantly more physical bullying. Boys were also significantly more likely to report experiencing verbal bullying than girls. No significant differences emerged for relational or cyber bullying. Regarding responses to bullying, social withdrawal was more common than aggressive responding, but consistent with the tend and befriend model, girls chose prosocial responses significantly more than boys; whereas, boys were just as likely to choose antisocial responding as prosocial responding. These results suggest that gender should be considered in studies that address the issue of when experiences with rejection-in its many forms-results in antisocial versus prosocial behavior. (publisher abstract modified)